Today's J-List post is below. You can also read it on the J-List website or the JBOX.com site.
Japan's current Emperor is Akihito, the 125th ruler in an unbroken line that stretches back for thousands of years. The reign of each emperor has a name, with the current one being Heisei ("peace everywhere"), which started when the last emperor died in 1989. The previous modern eras were Showa ("enlightened peace," 1926-1989), Taisho ("great truth," 1912-1926) and Meiji ("enlightened rule," 1868-1912). Years can be expressed either in seireki (the standard Western calendar) or using the Japanese era dates; for example, this year is Heisei 17, since it's 17th year since of the current emperor. Over time, it's surprising how comfortable you can get with this alternate calendar. I was born in Showa 43 (1968), came to Japan in Heisei 3 (1991) and started J-List in Heisei 8 (1996).
Fawning over Japan's royal family is a national pasttime in Japan, and the media never stop thinking of nice things to say about them. Linguistically, there's a whole level of polite language reserved exclusively for talking about the Emperor and his family, which is of course pretty difficult for foreigners to ever have occasion to learn. In sharp contrast to the U.K., Japan's press practices near total self-censorship when it comes to the subject of the royal family, never publishing anything negative. When Masako-sama, the wife of Crown Prince Naruhito, disappeared from public life for several months only to be diagnosed with clinical depression soon after, the press didn't know how to react to this delicate news. In Japan, to be "right wing" is to love and revere the Emperor and to hark back to the "good old days" of Japan's Imperial glory. Many older Japanese who lived through the war still have pictures of the Emperor in their rooms, and Tomo's grandfather, who fought in the war, used to yell at Tomo when he used the word tenno (Emperor) without using the full title, tenno heika ("His Majesty, the Emperor").
You may be familiar with the Japanese word otaku. A formal word which originally means "you" or "your family," it's come to describe people who go all-out in pursuit of their hobbies. The most famous otaku are the anime otaku, aficionados of Japanese animation, but there are many other kinds of otaku, from military otaku to perfume otaku to train otaku, and so on. There seems to be something about the Japanese psyche that opens them up becoming extra obsessive when it comes to their hobbies. Unfortunately, while foreigners are often happy to use the word otaku to describe themselves as a lover of all things Japanese, I really have to advise against referring to yourself as an otaku front of Japanese people. In Japan, the concept of people getting carried away collecting doujinshi, Zippo lighters, and Disney plush toys is cute, but the idea of being an otaku is not always a positive one -- just as you might not know what to think about a person who boasted about what a "Trekkie" he was. If you're an otaku, my advice is to hide your otakuism from Japanese people until they know you better, and not show it right away.
We're extremely happy to announce that we've finally gotten our stock of Lasonic DVD players in! Once again we've got the small-footprint DVD-800 and the Karaoke-enabled DVD-7880K, in addition to our low-cost half-height DVD-7890 and DIVX-capable DVD-7050. All of these players will play discs from all regions, will allow you to watch PAL discs from Europe or South America on an NTSC (North American) TV, and work great for all your DVD-viewing needs. They're made for the U.S. market and feature one-year warranties too. They ship daily out of our San Diego office!
Here are today's "really cool products" that I thought were especially noteworthy. Note: the J-List links below may be for adult products and should probably be considered "not safe for work." See the JBOX.com site if under 18 or offended by this kind of stuff.
Furuta Gamera Figures. When I was 5, Gamera, the radioactive turtle from Japan's movie monster world, was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I wished I had my own flying Gamera monster for a pet. Here's a very cool toy set from Furuta (one of our favorite companies).
Harumi Nemoto - N2. Harumi Nemoto is one of the foremost "sexy idols" (e.g. a girl so sexy that you could probably want to her even with her clothes on). A member of the honorable Yellow Cab talent agency, she wrote a letter to the president of the agency asking to be made a star. He was impressed with her body and gave her a contact.
Sex Evolution -- Mariko Kawana. Mariko Kawana is an adult video actress from Japan, a "jukujo" (lit. ripened woman), a mature woman aged 40, who has had quite a career. Now she's pregant and she's captured her, ah, amazing condition in a very tasteful photobook.
Real Amateur Wrestler -- Mizuho Kawasaki. Another "zenra" (all nude) sports production, this features a girl who is supposedly the personal rival of one of the gold medalists of the Greece Olympics. She engages in Western-style wrestling and, ah, some interesting other sports.
The Battleship Yamato. Okay, here's something bizarre yet cool -- a perfect recreation of the original Battleship Yamato (without Wave Motion Gun), allowing you to see what the great ship looked like when she was fighting during the war. Very nicely done, if a tad expensive.